Mary Jane Kann Reddington (98), a lifelong resident of New Rochelle, died peacefully on March 31, 2022 in her home. She was born on July 21, 1923 in New Rochelle, NY, the daughter of Gordon W. and Katherine T. Kann. She was predeceased by two siblings, Katherine Waye and Gordon William Kann, Jr. and her loving husband of 57 years, John M. “Jack” Reddington. They were married in Blessed Sacrament Church, New Rochelle, on October 11, 1947. Mary Jane is survived by three children, Terence (Barbara) of Ridgefield, CT, Martha of Larchmont, and Robert (Daniela) of Luxembourg, as well as five grandchildren, Kristen, Brian (Ronna), Timothy (Samantha), Helena, and Jacqueline. Her nieces and nephews also survive her: Gordon William Kann III (Gladis), Mary Malanaphy (Terence), Holly Waye, Katherine Waye, Susan Reddington, Mildred Reddington, Elizabeth Console, J. Reddington Kennedy, Sarah (Timothy) Ingram, James (Laurie) Reddington, Peter Reddington, and Anne (Jacob) Reddington Conrad.
Mary Jane graduated from The Ursuline School and received a B.A. cum laude with English honors from the College of New Rochelle. She began her graduate studies in English and education at Columbia University and completed her M.A. at Hunter College in New York City. While completing her graduate studies, in 1945 she started her teaching career at Saint Gabriel High School in New Rochelle. There she taught English, history, religion and served as the adviser to the school newspaper and yearbook until 1951.
After a brief hiatus to raise her three children, Mary Jane joined the faculty of Albert Leonard Junior High School (now Albert Leonard Middle School) in 1960. “Mrs. Reddington” taught English, creative writing, and journalism and was the faculty adviser of the award-winning school paper, High Lights. She introduced her students to Shakespeare as well as other English and American literature and poetry. Also, she guided her students through Ivanhoe and The Iliad and The Odyssey. It is likely that many of her former students can still identify split infinitives and diagram complex sentences. Her decision to retire from teaching was one of her most difficult ones as she loved every moment in the classroom.
Retirement gave her the time to travel the world with Jack. Their travels brought them all over the United States, Canada, Ireland, the UK, and Europe plus Russia, China, and Australia. She continued to travel extensively well into her nineties. Mary Jane kept a daily journal and when she traveled she captured meticulous details of her visits to historic sites and was especially awestruck by the magnificent cathedrals of Europe and England. Ever the Anglophile, she dreamed of studying at Oxford University. That dream came true when she attended The Oxford Experience, a residential summer program at Christ Church College, three times.
Shortly after her retirement, The Ursuline School asked her to become their Director of Development and Alumnae and held that position from 1981 to 1988. Mary Jane’s association with Ursuline began as a freshman in 1937 and, for over 80 years, has remained an active and devoted alumna. She was the recipient of the St. Angela Award (1977) for her “exceptional loyalty and devotion to the school and for furthering the realization of the values and goals of Ursuline education” and The Saint Ursula Award (2011) for her professional achievements. From 2019 until her death, she was the Active Chair of the school’s Innovation Campaign, a multimillion dollar fundraising endeavor to “build new spaces in line with 21st century learning approaches.”
When the New Rochelle Board of Education held its first ever election for a seat on the Board (previously, Board members were by mayoral appointment), Mary Jane threw her hat into the ring and defeated the incumbent. She reran and was re-elected six times. She served as both President (1987 – 1989) and Vice-President (1985 – 1987). After 30 years of service, she retired from the Board, just 21 days before her ninetieth birthday. She was an active and committed Board member who attended almost every Board meeting, some of which lasted into the wee hours of the morning. What gave her the most satisfaction was to visit schools in the district to meet with administrators, teachers, staff, and students. She attended countless plays, art exhibits, recitals, graduations, and other special events. Always impressed by the commitment of teachers and staff and the many activities of the students that enhanced their learning experiences, she was known for her meticulous, prolific, and personal correspondence acknowledging the achievements of teachers, staff, and students.
Her dedication to her alma mater, the College of New Rochelle, spanned decades and included membership on and President of the Alumnae Association’s Board of Directors. She was President and Reunion Chairman for the Class of 1945 and a member of the Board of Trustees. The College presented her with the Ursula Laurus Citation (1962) and the St. Angela Merici Medal (1970), the College’s highest alumnae honor. In 1996, she received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Iona College.
Mary Jane was a parishioner of the Church of the Holy Family for over 65 years where she was a lector and, until her death, President of the Ladies Guild.
Throughout her life, she gave her time and talents to many local organizations. For over 20 years, she was the President of the Woman’s Club of New Rochelle. While its membership declined over the years given societal changes, she was determined to bring the Club into its centennial year. In 2019, the Club celebrated its 100th anniversary before dissolution. She continued to serve on the board of The Westchester County Federation of Women’s Clubs.
She was the past president of many organizations including the Ladies of Charity (New Rochelle Chapter), the Catholic Woman’s Club of New Rochelle (Evening Section), Alpha Delta Kappa, the Colburn Memorial Home, the Business and Profesional Women’s Club of New Rochelle, The United Way of New Rochelle, and the Southern New York Retired Teachers’ Association. She was a member of many other boards including: New Rochelle Public Library Foundation (member emerita), New Rochelle Community Services, New Rochelle Youth Bureau, and the Wykagyl Crossways Neighborhood Association. She was also a volunteer at Sound Shore Medical Center (now, Montefiore | New Rochelle).
Mary Jane was honored by many organizations for her service and commitment to her community: Woman of the Year, Business and Professional Women’s Club of New Rochelle (1979); Gold Key Award, Columbia Scholastic Press Association (1976); United Way of New Rochelle, Citations (1970 – 2010), Special Recognition (1986 and 2001) and Leadership Dinner Honoree (2006); AARP, National Community Service Award (1994); the Colburn Home (1992); New Rochelle Public Library Foundation Community Salute Honoree (1999) and The Foundation Award (2004); New Rochelle YMCA, Community Service Award (2001); Senior Personnel Placement Bureau (2002); Interreligious Council of New Rochelle (2003); Sound Shore Medical Center’s Marie Vitt Humanitarian Award Recipient (2005); United Way of New Rochelle Leadership Dinner Honoree (2006); New Rochelle NAACP Education Award (2007); Meals-on-Wheels of New Rochelle (2003); New Rochelle Foundation for Educational Excellence (2004); Westchester County Senior Hall of Fame (2005); Ladies of Charity 50 Year Honoree (2010); New Rochelle Council of Community Services Leadership Award (2012); Westchester County Federation of Women’s Clubs Woman of the Year Award (2012); New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence (2004); “Someone Special” Community Service Award (2007). She was included in many editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who of American Women, and Who’s Who in American Education.
Donations in Mary Jane’s memory may be made to The Ursuline School (attn: Advancement Office, 1354 North Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10804; 914-636-5169) or Meals-on-Wheels of New Rochelle (50 Pintard Avenue, New Rochelle, NY 10801; 914-576-3865).
A wake will be held at Lloyd Maxcy’s Beauchamp Chapel,16 Shea Place, New Rochelle, (914) 632-2700, on Thursday, April 7 from 2 – 4pm and 7 – 9 pm. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at the Church of the Holy Family in New Rochelle on Friday, April 8 at 11.00am. Interment immediately following: St. Mary’s Cemetery, 399 North Street, Greenwich, CT.